Adolescent Crime and Victimization: Sex and Gender Differences, Similarities, and Emerging Intersections
This essay examines sex/gender differences and similarities in offending and victimization among young people. Gender differences are pronounced for violent behaviors and smaller for minor property crime. Females have a greater risk of sexual victimization, while males have higher rates of other types of victimization. The essay examines how these patterns are influenced by status characteristics such as race, ethnicity, neighborhood, country, sexuality, immigration status, and social class. It also reviews a number of classical criminological explanations for sex/gender differences and similarities—general strain theory, social and self-control theories, symbolic interactionist perspectives, and social learning theories—as well as several intersectional approaches, including feminist perspectives, power-control theory, and relational schema theory. The essay concludes with a discussion of directions for future research.
Jennifer L. Woolard
Some form of delinquency is a normative part of adolescence for a majority of teens, yet the consequences of risky behavior and juvenile justice involvement can be severe. This article focuses on important aspects of adolescent delinquency and justice processing. It examines the cognitive factors which develop during adolescence, which illustrate that adolescents appear to perform comparably to adults by about the age of sixteen. Following this, it examines psychosocial factors of susceptibility to peer influence and future orientation and their continued development in the adolescent period. It also reviews the developing challenge of regulating emotions and affective responses that continues well into young adulthood. Finally, placing adolescents in their ecological context, it makes an attempt to describe how unique relationships between adolescents, parents, and the state present challenges for adolescents that no other age group faces in the legal system.
Simon I. Singer
Delinquency in adolescence is a known precursor to adult criminality. Nonetheless, the delinquencies of adolescents are generally considered irrelevant to adult white-collar crime. This chapter reviews reasons for why adolescence might matter to explanations of white-collar offending. It begins by defining white-collar delinquency as an act of fraud committed by a middle- or upper-class adolescent in his or her educational, familial, or workplace setting. Class, age, and gender are significant determinants of white-collar delinquencies. The chapter concludes with several cases of white-collar delinquency and survey data on its incidence.
Scholarship on race, crime, and justice often remains gender blind. Researchers cannot fully understand the influences of race and racism without serious consideration of its gendered dimensions. Distressed minority communities in urban settings have disproportionate rates of violence against women. Structural, organizational, and cultural characteristics heighten gendered risks, including high rates of other crime; male domination of public community spaces; environmental features of neighborhoods; the reluctance of community members to intervene in violence, including the mistreatment of women and girls; acute distrust of the police; and the dominance of cultural norms that support gender inequality and the sexual objectification of young women. Such violence is a critical social problem in need of careful theoretical and policy attention, and is an integral facet of the gendering of racial inequality.
David J. Harding
Disadvantaged neighborhoods can affect criminal behavior, increasing the risk of late-onset juvenile delinquency even for young people not otherwise at risk of delinquent behavior due to their individual characteristics and family circumstances. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood has been linked to other negative adolescent outcomes, such as dropping out of high school and early childbearing, but the mechanisms by which neighborhood disadvantage affects individual outcomes are less well understood. A study drawing on in-depth, unstructured interviews with 60 adolescent boys in three Boston neighborhoods seeks to understand how neighborhood-based violence affects the social and cultural context of a boy’s neighborhood and how this context in turn affects his decision making and outcomes. Two interrelated features of poor urban neighborhoods are critical mechanisms underlying neighborhood effects on adolescent boys: neighborhood violence and cultural heterogeneity. These mechanisms generate institutional distrust, bonds of mutual protection, cross-cohort socialization, negative role models, and the leveling of expectations.
Important research focuses on why thousands of young men and women join youth gangs, but much can be learned from looking at a single life in order to understand ways individuals manage to leave gang life behind them, in this instance by Christian conversion. This life story, told in an effort to decipher its structure and its sources of efficacy, is of Julio, a born-again, ex-gang member who grew up in Los Angeles, California but has since been deported back to Guatemala. His story provides a window into Christianity’s relationship to hemispheric security by exploring the growing world of Central American gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio Dieciocho (18th Street) from the perspective of gang ministry. Julio’s story joins a growing conversation about Central American gangs and the efficacy of Christian conversion.
Case Study: Black Cannabis Dealers in a White Welfare State Race, Politics, and Street Capital in Norway
An ethnographic study of a group of young black men dealing cannabis at a drug scene called The River in Oslo demonstrates that accumulation and use of street capital can be seen as responses to processes of social and economic exclusion. In Norway, as elsewhere, many immigrant youths are marginalized by ethnic discrimination, racism, lack of education and job opportunities, and immigration policy. Street capital is a means to gain respect, status, and money. The concept is inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and highlights how street culture becomes embodied and emphasizes the practical rationality involved when marginalized youths become involved in crime. Street capital is upheld by and embedded in gangster stories, but the young men also see themselves as victims. There are ongoing shifts between gangster- and oppression discourses; neither represents the “true story” of these men. Ethnographic study of street dealers’ language use demonstrates the complex relationship between street culture and a benevolent Nordic welfare state.
Dana Hayward and Ross E. Cheit
Child sexual abuse is a significant moral, legal, and social problem. Approximately 5 to 8 per cent of adult men and 15 to 20 per cent of adult women in the United States experienced sexual abuse during childhood or adolescence. This essay provides an overview of major issues and debates concerning child sexual abuse, focusing primarily on the United States. It covers the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its effects on victims, why some individuals are more resilient than others, when and how victims of CSA disclose their abuse, the phenomenon of recantation and what it says about the credibility of abused children, how the judicial system deals with child sexual abuse, and how child sexual abuse can be prevented. The essay concludes by reflecting on the important relationship between scholarship and policy in the field of child sexual abuse research.
Friedrich Lösel and Doris Bender
This article studies child social skills training, which can be easily implemented by teachers in schools or preschools. This training aims to prevent antisocial development in children, which may ultimately lead to criminal behavior in the future. The discussion begins with a brief conceptual and theoretical background of child social skills training. It is then followed by a description of some leading child skills programs, such as the I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) and Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS). Finally, this article considers the effects and effectiveness of these programs.
This essay explores key questions emerging from recent research with children who experience commercial child sexual exploitation. It examines the discrepancies between children’s right to be protected from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, and the right to express their views. Child protection has traditionally focused on protecting younger children from sexual abuse in the home, so a conceptual shift is needed to embrace the needs of older children who are making their own decisions about how to respond to and manage adversity. The author proposes a child protection system that understands the various forms of exploitation of children in public spaces and within the informal economies of drug and sex markets. The author argues for a ‘social model’ for contextualizing consent to sexual activity that takes into account the economic, social, and environmental pressures on young people.
Charis E. Kubrin
The community or neighborhood in which juvenile lives constitute an important context and it influences juvenile delinquency. This article describes the role of communities in the production of delinquency. It begins by identifying community characteristics of importance and describes why researchers have most frequently been examining these. Following this, it discusses the various theoretical mechanisms proposed to account for the link between community characteristics and rates of delinquency. It then presents two critical weaknesses in the communities and delinquency literature, and explains how they have been addressed to some degree in contextual studies of delinquency. Furthermore, it reviews the main findings from the contextual effects literature. Finally, the article concludes by identifying more general issues that warrant attention in communities and delinquency studies and by charting some promising new directions for research.
Competence and Criminal Responsibility in Adolescent Defendants: The Roles of Mental Illness and Adolescent Development
Jodi Viljoen, Erika Penner, and Ronald Roesch
The law has required that adult defendants cannot be tried unless they have an ability to understand and participate adequately in legal proceedings against them. Another legal protection for mentally ill defendants is insanity defense or criminal responsibility laws. Historically these legal protections were not applied to adolescents tried in juvenile court. The purpose of this article is to examine the application of competence and criminal responsibility laws to adolescents, with a focus on some of the challenges that have arisen. It discusses relevant legal standards and the role of mental illness and developmental immaturity and highlights the implications for courts, attorneys, and mental health clinicians. At the present time, many issues pertaining to potentially incompetent and not guilty by reason of insanity adolescents remain undecided. There is a need for further research on the characteristics and needs of these adolescents and appropriate assessment and treatment approaches.
Due to the under-representation of females, public officials have paid less attention to understanding their offending or to developing and assessing prevention and intervention strategies for them. Attention to female offenders is now considered important because their numbers are growing in all spheres of criminal justice. This article explains what is currently known about girls and their juvenile justice experiences. It discusses the difficulty that exists in identifying gender bias because of the nature of juvenile justice processing. It then describes data sources about the offending patterns of girls and boys and examines how gender appears to affect juvenile justice processing. Following this, the article identifies difficulties for girls in access to treatment and services. It highlights deficiencies in knowledge about female-specific treatment. Finally, it gives recommendations for an integrated framework to assist in learning more about the problems girls face and ways to make their experiences with juvenile justice systems successful.
Tamara M. Haegerich and Patrick H. Tolan
Youth who engage in delinquent acts are often more troubled than even their most antisocial behavior suggests. Much criminal behavior can be attributed to a child psychiatric disorder. Mental disorders are often seen in delinquent youth, and this relationship is known as comorbidity. Comorbid disorders may be different manifestations of the same disorder. This article reviews the existing evidence of comorbidity of delinquency with common disorders, the delinquent youth suffer from, including substance abuse and substance dependence, depression, etc. Methodological difficulties in assessing the comorbidity of delinquency and other disorders challenge the understanding of the issue and these are highlighted. It then discusses implications and new directions for research. Finally, it describes implications for juvenile justice policy, emphasizing the responsibility of the justice system for identifying and treating delinquent youth with comorbid disorders.
Brandon C. Welsh
Delinquency prevention involves intervening in the lives of children and youths before they engage in delinquency. Delinquency control or repression responds to individuals after a delinquent act has been committed. Delinquency prevention takes place outside of the juvenile justice system, but delinquency prevention programs are not designed with the intention of excluding justice personnel. This article reviews the research on and key issues facing the prevention of delinquency. It opens by drawing attention to two important yet divergent issues confronting the present state and future of delinquency prevention, which are, research in prevention of delinquency, and the reality of policy and practice. It reviews scientific evidence on what works to prevent delinquency through individual, family, and environmental interventions that are delivered in the early years of the life course. Finally, it examines the implications of this research for juvenile justice policy and practice.
William H. Barton
The term detention refers to that part of the juvenile justice system that handles youths between the time of their arrest and court hearings. Detention centers are secure facilities intended to hold youths deemed too risky to release during that time period. This article attempts to provide an overview of juvenile detention in the United States. It also addresses a range of questions and issues concerning the use of juvenile detention, discussing the purpose and intention of detention and arguing if it really matches its intended purpose. It also gives information on the number of young people placed in juvenile detention, and the reasons and procedures of them landing there. Furthermore, it describes the consequences of juvenile detention policies and practices for society and for the children who are affected by them. Finally, it poses a question, asking if there is a better way to structure juvenile detention.
David S. Tanenhaus
This article traces the ideological origins and legal foundations of the juvenile court. It examines juvenile courts at work in the early twentieth century, their guiding principles, and the later development of federal juvenile justice in the 1930s. It also assesses the U.S. Supreme Court's due process revolution that introduced more procedural requirements as well as lawyers into juvenile court during the 1960s, but simultaneously undercut one of the rationales (i.e., “the rehabilitative ideal”) for having a separate justice system for juveniles. It further focuses on the “get tough” era of the 1980s and 1990s, a time when most states made it easier to prosecute adolescents in the criminal justice system. Finally, it gives a brief discussion of future of the juvenile court. Despite jurisdictional changes, procedural reforms, and the erosion of the rehabilitative ideal, the juvenile court remains a flawed but resilient fixture in modern American governance.
Deanna L. Wilkinson
Youth violence is a public health problem that compromises the healthy development of youth and communities. This article makes an attempt to develop a theoretical model of the situational and transactional features of urban youth violence. It describes the heuristic presentation of the compositional aspects of youth violence events focusing on the most central situational characteristics. Following this, it describes how those characteristics converge in the early stages of a conflict interaction. It emphasizes on opening interactions, interpretations of social cues, relational distance between actors, and respondents' perceptions of the hostile intent of others. Furthermore, it specifies an emergent transactional model by focusing on the sequential stages of the event and the roles that actors play as the event moves through time. It concludes by situating the emergent transactional theory for urban youth violence within the broader violence literature and make suggestions for its relevance to juvenile justice policy.
Doris Layton MacKenzie and Rachel Freeland
Much controversy exists about the use of juvenile residential programs for delinquents. They are argued to be inherently detrimental by some, means of rehabilitation by others, and still others argue that they should be employed only when the juvenile is a danger to self or others and that appropriate programming can be successfully employed in such institutions. This article reviews the literature on the effectiveness of juvenile residential programs with an emphasis on the impact on later criminal or delinquent behavior. The research reviewed does not support the perspective that incarceration is successful in deterring juveniles, nor do all facilities have detrimental impacts. But the article does state that programming brings about cognitive transformations and may be the most effective method in reducing recidivism. In general, the impact of programs is similar for different races, ethnicities, genders, or ages. Studies have not demonstrated differences between these groups in terms of the impact on recidivism.
Daniel P. Mears
This article is focused on front-end processing in the juvenile court. The front end of juvenile justice refers to initial court decisions about how to process cases. The article discusses how the traditional mission of the juvenile court, which emphasizes punishment, treatment and services, and individualized attention, contributes to the goals and structure of front-end decision-making. Following this, it reveals two critical front-end activities: screening and assessment and informal and formal processing encompassing the roles of intake officers and prosecutors in these activities and how they comport with the juvenile court's traditional mission. Furthermore, it explores the stakes involved in front-end decision-making, including the potential impacts on how cases are processed and describes the implications of front-end processing for policy and practice. It concludes with a call for better monitoring of and research on front-end juvenile court processing and its impacts on recidivism, juvenile crime rates, and other outcomes.